SRGSTEL Art Editor Liz Kinnamon contributed to the latest issue of “Open Space,” the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s journal, with “Elegant Uprooted Things: Jack Spicer, California, and Psychoanalysis,” a fascinating article on Spicer’s poetry, psychoanalysis, repetition, and the everyday.
“Moving exposes you to need almost primally. You can’t take much for granted when you’re without the resources that indirectly accumulate over time. Moving separates you from the setting that made your life possible or impossible but to which you are still attached. And in being cut from your context you can forget entirely who you are or if you matter. No one should underestimate how profound it is to be uprooted and how profound it is to refuse to move, which is to acknowledge the importance of being embedded and the fact that your life is made possible by that embedding.
It’s not that common to think about moving this way, though, especially in a place that emanates the values of portability, innovation, and flexibility like the Bay Area. Moving is as much an ‘adventure’ as it is a completely unremarkable fact of contemporary life. Like, you moved for your job? Just integrate. You got evicted? Just move somewhere else. People warned me about the particular brand of positive detachment known as ‘West Coast chill,’ but then I got here and saw that people on social media were actually levitating. I told a friend about this and he confirmed: Joyce S. Lee’s Defying Gravity (2016) is a book entirely composed of screenshots from men midair on Tinder — skydiving, hovering in their studios via special effects, or just jumping for the camera at a tourist vista. The California ethos is like I’m so light and positive that I’m weightless, and not only do I have no baggage but I’m not even touching the ground.
Meanwhile, for Spicer —
The ground still squirming. The ground still not as fixed as I
thought it would be in an adult world.
When [psychoanalyst Christopher] Bollas talks about the transformational object, he’s not just saying that most of us seek to make a home within live relation, but that when someone seems fundamentally or obsessively structured by that search, it is ‘not only a quest for an idealized object. It also constitutes some recognition in the subject of a deficiency in ego experience’ — what Michael Balint calls the ‘basic fault.’ For Bollas, ‘the failure of the mother to maintain provision of the facilitating environment, through prolonged absence or bad handling, can evoke ego collapse and psychic pain.’
If Spicer’s sudden move away from his context in LA to the Midwest was as formative as the biography suggests, it raises the point that one deracination can render a lifetime of displacement. It’s not that one is then determined by a past event, but that ‘it may be that a single torment, always the same, displaced, misunderstood, is at the heart of all our torments, that everything which has some effect on us has one cause only.’ Contrary to the constant turnover of capital, analysis or therapy imparts you to remember when remembering can be a drag. It forces you to keep remembering that you have and everybody else has a history that’s not easily escaped or outwitted, that your history and your self have to be treated on their own terms, and that change is hard won. But analysis — again, a collaborative way of staying with repetition — doesn’t have to be a reduction. It can serve as practice for how to repeat without reducing in the everyday.
Spicer created a holding environment through his poetry that in some ways Spicer the person would never enter. His serial poems were always to be considered contextually and not alone, thus functioning like the seriality of relation. His poems recreated the experience of being engaged in a process with the transformational object. And the ultimate result of this practice of construction was to create what Blaser called ‘public love.’ It is in spite of his faultline — or rather because of it — that Spicer is one of the best examples of loving with lack. To love, as Lacan reminds us, is to give what one does not have; or as Jaques Alain-Miller adds to Lacan, ‘to love is to recognize your lack and give it to the other.'”
“It’s the lack of concrete economic benefit for the poor that led Lance Barton, the eastern regional director of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, to tell me that farm-to-table ‘is like the Kardashians: there’s not really anything there, but it sure gets a hell of a lot of press.’ Barton admits, however, that the press farm-to-table garners does has real value, even citing Chef and the Farmer as particularly effective agents for his hunger relief efforts. Knight admitted something similar, saying the biggest impact Chef and the Farmer has was changing ‘the perception the community has of itself.’
But, private businesses—like Chef and the Farmer, Jordan’s real estate company, and Saxapahaw’s farmers—must work within already existing conditions, like generational inequality and land prices in order to create an economically viable business model for themselves. ‘I’m not sure I feel responsible,’ for ensuring the economic impact is shared equally, Knight tells me. Some of the businesses’ effects, both concrete and perceived, function along those lines, leaving out sections of the community already harmed by those conditions.
The successes in Saxapahaw and Kinston are as undeniable as they are laudable, but that does not mean they meet farm-to-table’s more ambitious claims of investing in the entire community. Perhaps there is some model—like the nonprofit Benevolence Farm, near Saxapahaw, which employs women recently released from prison—that provides viability while ensuring more equitable investment. But the lesson of Saxapahaw and Kinston seems to be that farm-to-table, no matter how idealistic, is not yet able to create the community change it promises—not for the entire community, anyway.”
“To millions of adventurers and campers, America’s national forests are a boundless backyard for hiking trips, rafting, hunting and mountain biking. But for thousands of homeless people and hard-up wanderers, they have become a retreat of last resort.
Forest law enforcement officers say they are seeing more dislocated people living off the land, often driven there by drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, lost jobs or scarce housing in costly mountain towns. And as officers deal with more emergency calls, drug overdoses, illegal fires and trash piles deep in the woods, tensions are boiling in places like Nederland that lie on the fringes of the United States’ forests and loosely patrolled public lands.
‘The anger is palpable,’ said Hansen Wendlandt, the pastor at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church.
Some residents have begun taking photographs of hitchhikers or videotaping confrontations with homeless people camping in the woods and posting them online, including on a private Facebook page created recently called Peak to Peak Forest Watch. Some say the campers have cursed at them for driving past without picking them up, or yelled at them while they were cycling or hiking. They say they no longer feel comfortable in some parts of the woods.
But as a homeless man named Julian, 30, hiked down from the hills and into Nederland one rainy afternoon, guitar and knapsack slung on his back, he said a passing driver yelled at him to get out of town. He said he, too, felt uncomfortable and was heading toward Estes Park, Colo., then on to Oregon. He did not give his last name because he said he did not want friends and family reading that he was homeless.
Mr. Wendlandt serves lunch and hands out socks to needy campers every Thursday. But he has stopped provisioning people with blankets and sleeping bags, worried that what seemed like compassion could be exacerbating a problem.“
“Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go.“
“South Beach residents woke up to a grim prediction painted in neat block letters across the top of the old abandoned South Shore Hospital: ‘YOUR MILLION DOLLAR HOUSES WILL SOON BE UNDERWATER.’
Stephen Cohen, a resident of the Icon Condominium tower across Fifth Street, snapped a photo of the message and posted it to Facebook around 10 a.m.Tuesday.
“Wherever Africans were enslaved in the world, there were runaways who escaped permanently and lived in free independent settlements. These people and their descendants are known as ‘maroons.’ The term probably comes from the Spanish cimarrón, meaning feral livestock, fugitive slave or something wild and defiant.
Marronage, the process of extricating oneself from slavery, took place all over Latin America and the Caribbean, in the slave islands of the Indian Ocean, in Angola and other parts of Africa. But until recently, the idea that maroons also existed in North America has been rejected by most historians…By downplaying American marronage, and valorizing white involvement in the Underground Railroad, historians have shown a racial bias, in Sayers’ opinion, a reluctance to acknowledge the strength of black resistance and initiative. They’ve also revealed the shortcomings of their methods: ‘Historians are limited to source documents. When it comes to maroons, there isn’t that much on paper. But that doesn’t mean their story should be ignored or overlooked. As archaeologists, we can read it in the ground…’
‘Traditionally, we’ve studied the institution of slavery, not enslavement as it was lived,’ [Nancy Bercaw] says. ‘Once you start looking at our history through an African-American lens, it really changes the focus. Maroons become much more significant.’
The largest community of American maroons was in the Great Dismal Swamp, but there were others in the swamps outside New Orleans, in Alabama and elsewhere in the Carolinas, and in Florida. All these sites are being investigated by archaeologists.
‘The other maroon societies had more fluidity,’says Bercaw. ‘People would slip off down the waterways, but usually maintain some contact. The Dismal Swamp maroons found a way to remove themselves completely from the United States, in the recesses of its geography.‘”